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Voice of America, 00-04-26

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: The director of the Yugoslav state owned airline company, Zika Petrovic was shot dead by an unknown gunman in Belgrade. Irena Guzelova Reports from Belgrade.

    TEXT: Mr. Petrovic was shot while walking his dog outside his home in central Belgrade. Passer-by say he was ambushed by two or three assailants who shot several bullets in his head leaving him lying in a pool of blood. He was a close associate of the ruling family and the member of the political party ruled by President Slobodan Milosevic's wife. The murder has all the hallmarks of a professional shooting and is the latest in a series of assassinations of high ranking business and political figures. It comes several months after the shootings of notorious Serb parliamentary leader, Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic and federal Defense Minister Pavle Bulatovic. None of the assailants have been caught. Observers say most of the murders are gangland inspired, but the minority are political. Analysts say the latest shooting might heighten the sense of insecurity amongst Serbia's elite. (Signed)
    NEB/IG/TVM-T/PT 25-Apr-2000 20:21 PM EDT (26-Apr-2000 0021 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: An eight-member mission from the United Nations Security Council arrives in Kosovo tomorrow (Thursday) to start a three-day fact-finding tour. V- O-A Correspondent Breck Ardery reports from the United Nations.

    TEXT: The delegation, led by Bangladesh's U-N ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, has a full schedule of meetings including talks with U-N Interim Administrator for Kosovo Bernard Kouchner and visits with police and justice administrators. On Friday, they will visit the town of Mitrovica, the scene of recent ethnic violence. Robert Fowler of Canada, this month's President of the U-N Security Council, says the delegation will also get a first-hand understanding of disputes involving the U-N administration, the NATO troops - or KFOR - and representatives of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

    /// FOWLER ACT ///

    There will be a meeting with a special commission that has been set up to resolve difficulties between the U-N administration and KFOR and the government of the F-R-Y and in that context, there will be some encounters.

    /// END ACT ///

    The purpose of the Council mission is to give members the experience of actually being in Kosovo and speaking with representatives of various groups there. A similar mission to Congo-Kinshasa, headed by U-S ambassador Richard Holbrooke, will leave New York next Tuesday. (Signed) NEB/BA/LSF/TVM/gm 26-Apr-2000 17:13 PM EDT (26-Apr-2000 2113 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    THIS IS THE SECOND OF TWO EDITORIALS BEING RELEASED FOR BROADCAST 04/27/2000. Anncr: The Voice of America presents differing points of view on a wide variety of issues. Next, an editorial expressing the policies of the United States Government: Voice: In Eastern Europe, trafficking in women has become one of the major criminal enterprises of the post-Communist era. This slave-trade has now developed into a serious problem in the Serbian province of Kosovo, which has yet to recover from the ethnic conflicts stoked by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. In the past six months, United Nations police have rescued fifty women - Moldovan, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, and Romanian - from brothels throughout Kosovo. According to police and aid workers, hundreds more, lured away from their homelands, may also be living in sexual servitude. Some of the women, as young as fifteen, had been transported from their homes in Eastern Europe to Macedonia. There they were held in motels and sold at auction to pimps. The women were held in unheated rooms where they were forced to engage in unprotected sex. International organizations have set up a safe house for women who have escaped or been rescued until they can return home. Unfortunately, Kosovo is not unique in this regard. Trafficking in women is rampant in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. And the problem is bigger even that that. Worldwide, it is estimated that over one-million women are forced into servitude each year that includes prostitution, bonded sweatshop labor, or domestic slavery. The problem is particularly serious in the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Girls from poverty- stricken families are often sold to traffickers by parents or relatives who are under economic pressure. Many become infected with H-I-V, the virus that causes AIDS. While criminal laws against such trafficking exist, they are often not enforced. Under U-N auspices, most countries are now negotiating a transnational organized crime convention. Signatories would be required to pass laws criminalizing trafficking in women and other persons. Victims would be given legal protection and returned to their homes, where they could receive rehabilitation. It is critical that such trafficking not only be made illegal in every country but also be vigorously prosecuted. Otherwise, this scourge will continue to grow. Anncr: That was an editorial expressing the policies of the United States Government. If you have a comment, please write to Editorials, V-O-A, Washington, D-C, 20237, U-S-A. You may also comment at www-dot-ibb-dot-gov-slash-editorials, or fax us at (202) 619-1043. 26-Apr-2000 11:39 AM EDT (26-Apr-2000 1539 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The European Commission is recommending to the 15 member states of the European Union (E-U) that that they order their state telephone companies to allow access to the local network that connects homes to the Internet. Ron Pemstein reports from Brussels, the Commission is threatening to use anti-trust laws to break up the monopolies.

    TEXT: For the European consumer who wants to connect a computer to the Internet, the local telephone line does not come cheap. For every moment this European consumer stays connected to the Internet, the local state monopoly is collecting per minute access telephone charges above the bills the Internet service provider is already paid. This lack of competition for the state monopoly is one reason there is not much business done on the Internet in Europe compared to the United States. In the U-S, local access is covered by one monthly charge and unlimited computer use is possible at no extra charge. European leaders have already set goals of passing legislation to reduce these local access costs by the end of the year. To do that, the E-U executive, the European Commission, is recommending that incumbent telecommunications operators allow competitors to have access to the local network - or loop - connecting the homes of Europeans. European Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen tells reporters there are already signs that more competition is taking place.

    /// LIIKANEN ACT ///

    During the next six months, the market situation will be very different in Europe. Consumers can have a clear alternative, clear choices, when demands go up, the prices will go down. So it will be the issue of this year.

    /// END ACT ///

    If the state companies are reluctant to let competitors share access to consumers, the European Commission is ready to use its competition law against them. Competition Commissioner Mario Monti says anti- trust rulings by the Commission are already having an effect.

    /// MONTI ACT ///

    When we simply started an investigation on the basis of the MCI-Worldcom complaint against termination rates of five mobile operators, then earlier this year we saw a decline of up to 50 percent for a number of the operators involved. /// OPT /// So my impression at least is that in this area, demonstrated willingness to act and I would say that today the Commission is displaying a package of such willingness, puts in motion behavior in a rather speedy manner.

    /// END OPT ///

    /// END ACT ///

    The Commission hopes increased competition will bring Europeans a full range of telecommunication services, including multi-media and high speed Internet. The Europeans hope telecom competition will boost economic growth and job creation as it has in the United States. (Signed)
    NEB/RP/GE/KL 26-Apr-2000 11:05 AM EDT (26-Apr-2000 1505 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: U-S stocks drifted lower today (Wednesday), as inflation and interest rate concerns hit Wall Street. VOA correspondent Elaine Johanson reports from New York:

    TEXT: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 179 points, one-point-six percent, to 10-thousand-945. The Standard and Poor's 500 index lost 16 points - one percent. And the technology-weighted Nasdaq composite gave back two percent, after its more than six percent gain Tuesday. Good corporate earnings reports failed to keep stocks from falling, as investors worried about another possible credit tightening by the U-S central bank. The latest on the U-S economy shows orders to factories for costly items, like automobiles and electronic equipment, rose more than expected in March. The data made Wall Street nervous ahead of Thursday's release of first-quarter employment-cost data and Gross Domestic Product - a key measure of overall economic growth.

    /// REST OPT ///

    The central bank watches labor costs, in particular, very closely. The big question is whether the tight U-S labor market is creating inflationary pressure at the wage level. Analyst Clark Yingst says economic news is likely to drive the stock market from now until the Federal Reserve Board meets May 16th:

    /// YINGST ACT ///

    I think the question is important because with earnings reports now behind us we could be entering a period of two to three weeks, during which the market will re-focus on the economy, inflation, interest rates - just how aggressive the "Fed" might be, going forward.

    /// END ACT ///

    On the earnings front, Chevron - the second-largest U-S oil company - had its best quarterly profits ever. Higher oil and natural gas prices boosted earnings 200 percent. Meanwhile, leading brewer Anheuser-Busch reported a 10 percent increase in first-quarter profits. That beat expectations. Anheuser said a strong U-S economy, as well as demographics, drove beer demand higher. By "demographics" the company means an increase in the U-S population of 21 to 27 year-olds. In other "brewing" news, Whitbread of Britain is said to be in talks to sell its beer operations to the world's number four beer-maker - Interbrew of Belgium. Whitbread agreed in principle last year to unload its brewing unit to focus more on its pub and leisure businesses. And finally, another sign of the dominance of high- technology: the Nasdaq stock market has informed Smith Corona - a one-time leading typewriter manufacturer, now a small-time supplier of office equipment - that it will no longer be traded on the exchange because it does not meet the financial requirements. This is the second time for Smith Corona. The New York Stock Exchange dropped Smith Corona stock in 1996. (Signed) NEB/EJ/LSF/TVM/PT 26-Apr-2000 16:53 PM EDT (26-Apr-2000 2053 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: Midweek in the United States, editorial writers are outraged over a Monday shooting outside the National Zoo. Several opinions are being given on the incident, in which seven young people were injured, that occurred in the nation's capital. Some other topics being discussed include power struggles in Iran and ongoing religious persecution in China. Comments on the Cuban boy custody battle continue to hold a strong presence on the editorial pages of American newspapers, as well. Now with a closer look and some excerpts is _______________ with Wednesday's U-S Editorial Digest.

    TEXT: There is a sense of lost innocence in the nation's capital this week, as a fight between a group of young people at the National Zoo escalated into a violent attack that left an 11-year old boy critically injured and six other youths wounded. The shooting occurred as a large crowd was at the Zoo to take part in an annual African-American family celebration traditionally held on Easter Monday. Although police have arrested a suspect in the shooting, the motive for the incident at one of Washington's most popular tourist sites remains unclear. Many U-S newspapers are condemning the shooting and standing up against gun violence. The Washington Post is among them.

    VOICE: That bullets could fly at the national Zoo on Easter Monday was horrifying, but in a country that lets its handguns do the talking, sadly unsurprising. Youths have always scuffled; but today, scuffles too often turn into tragedies that could not happen were guns not so accessible. ...We do not pretend for a minute that any new law will bring an immediate end to school shootings or church shootings or zoo shootings. Nor do we dismiss efforts to get at the root causes of extreme violence in youth. But Congress does not hear gunfire unless it is in a school or maybe at a tourist attraction like the zoo. Then speeches are made and proposals are introduced, diluted and abandoned. The most sensible proposal, to ban handguns and assualt-style weapons, gets no hearing. Will public concern bring more pressure to bear at election time this fall? Or will the country simply stand by for the next tragedy?

    TEXT: That was the view of the Washington Post. The Baltimore Sun in Maryland has a similar concern, as the title of its editorial reads, "Shots ring out again, but when will we act?" But the Sun calls for more.

    VOICE: You have heard it all before. A mass shooting spurs debate over our love affair with the gun. But when will we have seen our fill? When will we have heard enough to do something? ...Do we need better controls on the unbridled flow of firearms through our streets and neighborhoods? Absolutely. But even more important, should not we change the way in which we deal with young people, the way we teach them right from wrong or instill cultural values in them? Should not we be asking what role we play in contributing to the violence in our society, or what role we refuse to play in bringing an end to it? We have seen and heard it all before. More of the same is what we will get until we take personal responsibility for making things better.

    TEXT: In other news, The New York Times is offering opinion on tensions in Iran. Iranian reform forces allied with President Mohammed Khatami are struggling with religious conservatives. The paper says the outcome will be crucial to realizing the hopes of most Iranians for greater tolerance and more openness to the outside world.

    VOICE: In about five-weeks, a newly elected Parliament is scheduled to take office, dominated by the reform elements that won a decisive victory in elections two-months ago. But conservative clerics are now striking back to dilute the scope of the reformer's victory and weaken the new Parliament's authority. Such shortsighted manipulations will only make the repressive religious authorities even more unpopular. The conservatives have used their control of the electoral machinery and the outgoing Parliament to overturn some election results, tighten censorship and shield the clerically controlled judiciary from legislative scrutiny. ...but they cannot prevail for long against the millions of young Iranians who increasingly demand a better, freer life. Eventually, Iranians will have to choose between two dramatically different visions of their nation's future, one based on democracy and the rule of law, the other premised on arbitrary religious authority. If the conservative clerics were wise, they would bow to the reform movement instead of forcing events toward a confrontation.

    TEXT: The Wall Street Journal is giving some attention to ongoing religious persecution in China. More than 100 followers of the Dafa School of meditation gathered yesterday in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to peacefully protest the suppression of their faith, and the newspaper is calling them heroes.

    VOICE: They (the protestors) may receive long sentences of hard labor for the "crime" of asking for the freedom to follow their religious beliefs, a freedom that is guaranteed in the Chinese constitution but has never been honored. ...Falun Dafa practitioners, ...Christians and Buddhists and all manners of other believers in China are today forced to suffer to remain true to their faiths. But even the best efforts of the Beijing regime cannot stamp out spirituality. Chinese society is changing quickly, and odds are that more people will follow the example of the Falun Dafa practitioners and demand their rights. That deeply disturbs a party that was never able to build a strong ideological basis for its claims to legitimacy. But the best way for party leaders to deal with their fears is to liberalize and accept ideological pluralism and the reality that totalitarian pluralism and modernization are antithetical.

    TEXT: Lastly, the controversial custody battle over Cuban boy, Elian Gonzales is drawing more comment from Nevada's Las Vegas Sun. After the U-S government's criticized seizure of Elian from his Miami family, the paper says the boy's reunion with his father was long overdue.

    VOICE: What should have been a simple matter got mixed up in international politics and the outdated way society treats fathers. If Elian had been from any other nation, and his mother had died in an attempt to reach the U-S, he would have been returned immediately. Or, if it was his father who had died in the crossing and his mother was left behind in Cuba, there would have been no question that he should be returned to his homeland. While the Republican congressional leadership wants to hold a hearing on Elian, they should give this a rest. The boy is back with his father, which is the way this should have been handled from the start. What is needed now is for the boy and his father to have some time together - away from the glare of the media circus in Miami that his relatives helped foster, a situation which has done nothing but harm the child. VOCIE: On that note, we conclude this sampling of comment from the editorial pages of Wednesday's U-S press.
    NEB/ENE/RAE 26-Apr-2000 13:56 PM EDT (26-Apr-2000 1756 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America

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